In many countries, obtaining a visa involves a trip to the embassy of the destination country, which could be far from your location.
At times, you may need to send your passport to a consulate office, among other travel-related inconveniences. This process can be quite tedious and exhausting.
Consequently, several countries, including Canada, have embraced the concept of Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which minimizes travel-related hassles.
This facility is available to travelers from visa-exempt countries, thereby reducing the daily influx of visa applicants.
The term eTA is still unfamiliar to many. Therefore, this article provides comprehensive information about eTA, its meaning, operation, components, requirements, eligibility, and application process.
eTA, an acronym for Electronic Travel Authorization, is a requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to a country by air. It allows the destination country to screen travelers before their arrival and is electronically linked to your passport.
This system was initially implemented by the United States in 2007 and was adopted by Canada in 2015. Travelers were permitted to register from August 1, 2015.
It is designed for travelers who do not require a visa to enter Canada. Canadian citizens also do not need an eTA.
If you intend to enter Canada by land, or if you possess a Canadian visa or permanent residence, you do not need an eTA to enter the country.
To apply for a Canadian eTA, you need the following:
- A valid passport
- A credit or debit card
- A fee of CAD $7
- A working email address
Anyone can apply for an eTA, regardless of age, size, or gender, as long as they are from a visa-exempt country. Ensure you meet the above requirements, are in good health, have no criminal records, and have no immigration issues.
If all these conditions are met, you are eligible to apply. Canadian citizens do not need an eTA.
An eTA remains valid for five years after application or until your passport expires, whichever comes first, as it is linked to your passport.
If your passport expires before the five-year period, your eTA becomes invalid. In any of these situations, the eTA is null and void.
The application process for Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is typically conducted online. For a Canadian eTA, the online form completion process is relatively quick.
Apply ONLY on the Official Government of Canada website. No other site is authorized to register travelers for eTA. Note that you can only apply for one person at a time.
- Visit the official Government of Canada application website
- Complete the form online
- Provide your credit or debit card details for a fee deduction of CAD $7.
- Click submit to process your application after filling in your correct details.
If all requirements are met, you should receive an email confirming the approval of your application within ten minutes of application.
If you do not receive the confirmation email after this period, do not panic. First, check your junk mail. Automated emails are often blocked and end up in the junk mail folder.
Next, verify if your passport number was correctly entered; if not, you won’t receive an email. If you encounter such a situation, apply for a new eTA immediately.
When completing an eTA form online, it’s crucial to be meticulous when entering your passport number to prevent errors. Your passport number is located at the top of your passport information page, which also contains your photograph.
Once you receive a confirmation email with your eTA number, be sure to save it as it will be essential when checking your status. It’s important to remember that obtaining an eTA approval does not automatically guarantee your entry into Canada.
Upon booking your flight and arriving at the airport, your passport will be presented and scanned to verify your identity.
If you successfully pass this security check, you can proceed with your journey; otherwise, you may have to return to your home country.
Canada has ten major airports. If you land at any of these, you will be welcomed by an officer from the Canada Border Service Agency.
At the primary inspection kiosk, your fingerprint will be automatically checked, and your identity will be cross-referenced with the information provided in your application.
However, if you arrive via smaller airports, your fingerprint may not be immediately checked, and you may or may not undergo the process. You will only need to go through the process if you are referred for a secondary inspection.
If you clear this inspection, the border service officer will stamp your passport and inform you of the duration of your stay, which is typically not more than six months.
The length of your stay can be restricted or extended based on the purpose of your visit (for non-citizens). If your stay is limited, you are entitled to a fair hearing to review your case. How do I Check my eTA Status?
Since your application was made online, you can check your status in your account. Sign in to your account, select “view my submitted applications or profiles”, click on “check status and messages”, and your status will be displayed. How Long Does eTA Processing Take?
The time frame between submission and approval is usually around 10 minutes, as you typically receive your confirmation email shortly after submission.
However, some approvals may take up to 72 hours. If additional documents are requested, the processing might take longer. Nonetheless, if you do not receive an approval message after 72 hours, it’s advisable to reapply. Benefits of eTA
The application process is swift
The application procedure is not complex
It minimizes security breaches
Challenges of eTA
It does not cover everyone. It is only for citizens from visa-exempt countries.
Processing can take longer than usual if additional documents are requested.
This guide is for individuals seeking to understand more about eTA. All foreign nationals from Visa-Exempted countries can utilize this route for travel authorization to enter Canada without any issues.